I recently listened to the book “Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive” by Patrick Lencioni. I have previously read, “Death by Meeting” and “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” both books by Lencioni and both books I would highly recommend. Once again, Lencioni doesn’t disappoint! “Four Obsessions” is an excellent book and here is a quick summary of the Obsessions, to find out how to implement them get this book.
- Build and Maintain a Cohesive Leadership Team: A cohesive team trusts one another, engages in constructive conflict, commits to group decisions and holds one another accountable. Lencioni emphasized that one of the best ways to build this team is to have the culture setter/vision setter of the organization (in a business a CEO in a church the Senior Pastor) do thorough interviews of all top management and staff. And that this individual would then have final say in hiring. Within a church structure this would probably look like the Senior or Lead Pastor interviewing and deciding on other staff, and also Elders or other key leaders of the church. This process would then trickle down from there, since at every level this interview process would take place with the overseers of each ministry area examining things based on the culture and vision that has been put forward. Lencioni also here talked about really knowing people on the staff. Not just information, but their personality triggers as well. I.e. the Meyers-Briggs test.
- Create Organizational Clarity: Healthy organizations clarify topics such as identity, core values, strategies/process, goals and roles & responsibilities. In thinking of a church it is amazing how many people have a different picture of what the church is. If 10 people have 10 different views regarding the identity of the church then there will be 10 different directions the church is working. In the same way if there are 10 people with 10 different ultimate goals then focus is split amongst the team and growth is not achieved because each person is working toward their own goal and not for a cooperative goal and direction.
- Over Communicate Organizational Clarity: Healthy organizations align their employees by repetitively and comprehensively communicating all aspects of organizational clarity. The question is can every single volunteer and staff member clearly express the organizational clarity above? Identity? Core Values? Strategies/Process? Goals? Their role & responsibilities? And for a church since we are a family can our members then repeat the same clarity? Lencioni wrote that in communicating, “you should feel like you’re beating a dead horse.” In other words just because you think you’ve been clear, you really haven’t.
- Reinforce Organizational Clarity Through Human Systems: Organizations sustain their health by establishing simple structures around the way they make decisions, evaluate job candidates, manage performance, and reward employees. This one is the most important in mainting the other three. Everyone is reviewed quarterly. Turning in a report of 1 page with four questions: “What did you accomplish?” “What will you accomplish next?” “How can you improve?” “Are you embracing the values?” I have to admit I love this one…in fact I love all four obsessions!
As I listened to the book it was very clear that these were not just obsessions, in fact a better word I believe would be “DISCIPLINES!” It takes discipline to operate in this way. It takes discipline to transition into this format. It takes discipline to stand up for a system like this that doesn’t accept status quo or people giving less than their best. It takes discipline to follow through. It takes discipline to not compromise because you “like” someone or are their “friend.” Of course being a disciple is in part to have a disciplined life.
I see definite areas where I as a leader need to grow in all four of the disciplines! And where I need to challenge the team we have here at Visalia Seventh-day Adventist to rise to this level. God is the best, He gave us His best in Jesus, and He deserves our best!